International Consultant for Drafting of a Human Rights And Gender-Sensitive Legal Aid Act


Location : Monrovia, LIBERIA
Application Deadline :10-Aug-20 (Midnight New York, USA)
Type of Contract :Individual Contract
Post Level :International Consultant
Languages Required :
English  
Starting Date :
(date when the selected candidate is expected to start)
18-Aug-2020
Duration of Initial Contract :40 working days,
Expected Duration of Assignment :90 days (August-October 2020)

Background

Organisational Context 

The United Nations Development Programme is supporting the Government of Liberia to undertake the drafting of a Legal Aid Legislation and, therefore, seeks to contract the services of an international legal aid consultant who will work together with a local counterpart. The consultant shall work under the direct supervision of the Chief Technical Advisor/Programme Manager - Rule of Law who leads the implementation of the Rule of Law Joint Programme. The later will regularly consult with OHCHR with respect to the implementation of the consultancy.

The UNDP/OHCHR Joint Programme aims to support the Government of Liberia in its efforts to build a society based on the principles of the rule of law, human rights and justice. 

The programme is geared towards enhancing the capacities of, and public confidence in, the rule of law institutions, as well as strengthening access to justice and security, especially for women and girls. Legal aid as a human right clearly demonstrates that all are equal before the law and affords the opportunity of legal representation to the poorest of the poor in the society. Interventions are designed to ensure sustainability and link activities to ‘system-level’ policy development. 

The support rests on a supply and demand equation that combines enhanced service delivery by resilient justice and security institutions with the public’s ability to access such services and hold duty-bearers to account. It also hinges on the understanding that legal aid is closely connected with human rights. For the poor and disadvantaged who are most vulnerable to having their human rights infringed, legal aid can be indispensable for obtaining redress against the infringement and vindication of their rights through the legal process. By increasing public confidence in the sector, support is designed to be catalytic, strengthening state-society relations and creating an enabling environment for development. As such, the programme is oriented around the following four mutually reinforcing interventions:

  • Capacity of justice and security institutions strengthened and linkages forged;
  • Civil society contribution to the rule of law and community access to justice enhanced;
  • Gender responsiveness of justice, security and legislative actors strengthened, and women and girls’ access to justice and security improved;
  • Capacity of key actors and stakeholders to monitor progress and results in the rule of law development increased.

The outcomes and outputs of the programme are based on a clearly defined theory of change, building on the lessons learned during the UN system’s engagement with the Liberian rule of law sector since 2003. Capitalising on the comparative advantages of each of the implementing partners, activities are carefully designed to achieve outputs and contribute to outcome level change that impacts the lives of beneficiaries and engenders systemic resilience and human development. 

Several Liberians are unable to afford to pay for legal services mainly resulting in fair trial rights implications, pretrial detention and prisons overcrowding. The programme supports national and local partners in providing legal aid to Liberians through a public defender system, and community-based approached. Within the context of improving access to legal aid in Liberia, the Government adopted in April 2019, a National Legal Aid Policy. For the first time, the Policy responds to the needs of women, marginalised, vulnerable and other disadvantaged groups and seeks to avail legal aid services to the poor at no costs. Since its adoption, several substantive work has been done to pave the way for the drafting and successful enactment of a gender-sensitive legal aid act. Some of these include high-level consultations with legislators, relevant government ministries and agencies, civil society and local communities to ensure buy-in for the process. Considering that the Policy does not bear the same force of law, one of the recommended policy actions is to draft a legal aid law that would be quickly adopted and implemented. Such law should define legal aid, formalise paralegal services, and determine the legal aid structure and systems to be put in place including making legal aid services gender-sensitive in such a way that the system has no barriers to prevent women and girls from accessing legal aid. 

The policy provides for the establishment of an independent legal aid board to provide comprehensive legal aid services to Liberians. In this vein, legislative, legal draftsperson is required to draft a legal aid Act to establish a legal aid board. The consultancy will include the organisation of a high-level legal aid consultative conference that will bring together regional and international experts, heads of legal aid boards and ministers of justices to share experiences and practices concerning legal aid models and their implementation.


Duties and Responsibilities

Scope of Work

Under the direct supervision of the Chief Technical Advisor/Programme Manager - Rule of Law, and in close cooperation with Chief Justice and the Minister of Justice and their relevant staff, the consultant will:

  • Conduct a desk review of the current laws, policies, regulations and procedures relating to legal aid practices in Liberia 
  • Liaise with the Ministry of Justice, the Law Reform Commission, the legislature, civil society, the Judiciary and other relevant stakeholders regarding the drafting instructions
  • Develop the mandate, structure and a comprehensive institutional framework for the establishment of a Legal Aid Board in Liberia
  • Work together with the Ministry of Justice on the development and drafting of a legal aid Act that will provide for the establishment of a Legal Aid Board in Liberia, define its structures, mandates, the scope of work as well as institutional frameworks
  • Ensure the Legal Aid Act incorporates a human rights and gender-sensitive approach 
  • Support the organisation of a high-level stakeholders’ consultative conference as well as a validation workshop for presentation of the draft bill.


Competencies

Deliverables

  • Develop and submit inception note which contains methodology (3 days);
  • Conduct a desk review of Liberia laws, policies and regulations (5 days);
  • Hold consultations with key stakeholders including representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, heads of law schools, Liberia National Bar Association and legal aid providers, the Judiciary, legislators and civil society, and help to plan and organise a high-level legal aid consultative conference on the legislation (7 days);
  • Prepare draft legislation (10 days);
  • Prepare and present the draft legislation for stakeholders’ at a validation workshop (3 days);
  • Prepare and submit a final draft of the Legal Aid Act and supporting documents including an explanatory memorandum, implementation plan and cabinet papers (7 days);
  • Prepare and submit a working structure, organogram with ToR and a full framework of how the Legal Aid Board operates and a final consultancy report (5 days).

Impact of Results 

UNDP and OHCHR aim to support the Government of Liberia, increase access to legal services for citizens, especially those that cannot hire lawyers to defend their interest during legal proceedings. By drafting Legal Aid legislation, and subsequently passing it into law, a national legal framework will be established. The legal framework will set out the duties, roles and the parameters of legal aid and pro bono work by lawyers as well as the establishment of a legal aid fund to cater for vulnerable and indigent citizens who do not usually have access to legal services due to high fees.

A comprehensive legal aid system and the establishment of a Legal Aid Board will impact Liberia’s Criminal Justice by increasing access to justice for the most vulnerable groups in the society while reducing court docket and pretrial detention. 


Required Skills and Experience

Education:

  • Master’s degree in law. A PhD in Law will be an added advantage.

Experience:

  • A lawyer qualified to practice in at least one jurisdiction and with at least 10 years post-qualification experience in legal aid education;
  • At least 10 years legislative drafting experience. Experience in drafting legal aid legislations will be an added advantage;
  • Experience in engaging a cross-section of stakeholders in public and private sectors;
  • Ability to engage with human rights and gender mainstreaming issues;
  • Extensive experience of working with legal institutions as well as government institutions and civil society organisations;
  • Knowledge of the Liberian legal system constitutes an added advantage.

Language Requirements:

  • Fluency in English, including excellent writing and drafting skills.


UNDP is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the strictest confidence.

UNDP does not tolerate sexual exploitation and abuse, any kind of harassment, including sexual harassment, and discrimination. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks.


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